Sixth annual Drag Show brings community together

By: Cory William Berlekamp
Email: berlekampc@findlay.edu
Twitter: @Cberlekamp

Students and community members cheered as the University of Findlay hosted its’ sixth annual Drag Show Benefit on Tuesday, March 13 in the Alumni Memorial Union.
According to Evan Bader of United, the University’s Gay-Straight Alliance, the event, which was free for students and five dollars for the community, brought in almost 2000 dollars. The proceeds were split between UF’s LGBT Resource Center and the Findlay LGBTQ+ Community Council.
The show featured six performers, including both drag queens and drag kings. The attendees of the show got exactly what they came for according to Performer Taj Mahal.
“Men dressed as women, lip syncing the words to other people’s music, and women dressed as men doing the same thing,” explained Taj Mahal. “We kind of got all the bases covered.”
The “Mistress of Ceremonies”, Ben Hippensteel, whose stage name is Candi, Wantsome?, led the show and introduced the other performances.
“I was luckily able to find the University as a place to explore my outlet as a different person, as a person of sobriety, and it was a huge gift for me,” said Hippensteel. “I’m very fortunate for this to be my third year hosting the show.”
Hippensteel has been performing for just under 20 years and says this show was a special one, as she had her drag family there.
“I was a musical theatre major and I started to work at a show bar down [in Dayton] called Celebrity and that’s where I met my drag mother, Taj Mahal, and I was bitten by the drag bug,” said Hippensteel.
As Hippensteel took the stage, she said, “This night is about community” and then danced her way up and down the stage. According to UF Freshman Ashley Chiccarello, who had never been to a drag show before, it was “amazing.”
“It was really cool, I guess I didn’t know much about it, but being able to go there and experience it and see the people who have been a part of that for 20 plus years, well it was an experience,” said Chiccarello.
Chiccarello, who is a member of United, saw the sense of community in the show from Hippensteel’s drag family being there, to members of the Findlay community participating in judging the show. That feeling was exactly what Hippensteel wanted.
“Being in Findlay and with the University of Findlay, for a lot of the students, sometimes they struggle to find a community because Findlay can be such a small fish bowl for the LGBT community,” explained Hippensteel. “So this is an opportunity for the LGBT community to come together, to have an event that is publicized and public where people can actually come outside of their homes and enjoy it along with the rest of the Findlay community.”

Interviews and References:
Ben Hippensteel and Taj Mahal, recorded in person at 5:27 p.m. March 13, 2018.
Ashley Chiccarello, recorded in person at 11:53 a.m. March 14, 2018.
Evan Bader, in person 12:01 p.m. March 19, 2018.

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